13.35: Cliché vs. Archetype

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard

Tropes, archetypes, and even cliches are tools in our toolboxes. There’s no avoiding them, but there are definitely ways to use them incorrectly. In this episode we’ll talk about how we shake off our fear of using tropes through understanding how they work.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

Play

Set a timer for 30 minutes.

SET THAT TIMER. 

With your life-jacket securely fastened, you may now go to tvtropes.com  and follow a trope like “boy meets girl” down the rabbit hole. Follow links. Dive deeply. When the timer goes off, close the page immediately. If you need a palate-cleanser, try watching “You Just Don’t Get It, Do You?

About eight months after we recorded this episode, Brandon pulled The Apocalypse Guard back from the publisher. We’ll update this link with more recent information soon.

13.34: Q&A on Character Arcs

Your Hosts: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, and Howard

You had questions. We came up with answers. The questions are below:

  • How do you fulfill promises about character arcs without being cliché? How do you subvert character tropes without betraying the reader?
  • Do you need to complete each character arc in a single story featuring multiple characters?
  • What separates an iconic character from a caricature?
  • Have you ever had an iconic character necessarily become a character in need of an arc?
  • How do you continue a character’s story after they’ve completed their original arc?
  • How much does a character need to change in their arc?
Play

Trace the skyline of a mountain.  Treat that line, with its ups and downs, as the narrative curve for a character arc.

Fat Angie, by e. E. Charlton-Trujillo, narrated by Angela Dawe

13.b1: Bonus Episode — Elephants and Death, with Lawrence Schoen

Your Hosts: Howard and Dan, with special guest Lawrence Schoen

Lawrence Schoen, clinical psychologist, cognitive hypnotist, small press publisher, Klingon language expert, and novelist, joined us at GenCon Indy for a bonus episode about elephants and death.

Howard and Lawrence both write uplifted elephants into their stories, and their stories also feature death as a theme, so this is a closer fit than it may seem to be at first blush.

Liner Notes: This episode was recorded in 2016, and after falling through the cracks (thanks in no small part to being below the fold on a spreadsheet), was rescheduled to coincide with the release of Moons of Barsk, Lawrence’s second novel in the uplifted-elephant setting.

Credits: This episode was mastered by Alex Jackson, and was made possible by our Patreon supporters

Play

Come up with a method for immortality, and then convince your protagonist not to use it.

Barsk: The Elephant’s Graveyard, by Lawrence Schoen, narrated by J.G. Hertzler

13.33: Reading Outside the Box

Your Hosts: Dan, Mary, Aliette, and Howard, with Kristie Claxton

Kristie Claxton joined us at WXR 2017 to talk about reading outside of the spaces where we’re comfortable and familiar. Specifically, we focused on how to learn about people who are not you by reading stories by and about them.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson

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Who are you? Answer that, and then go on to read  things by and about people who are not you.

Warlock Holmes: A Study in Brimstone, by G.S. Denning, narrated by Robert Garson

13.32: How To Handle Weighty Topics

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Amal, and Maurice

How can we, as writers, best handle weighty matters? This is our year on character, so we’ll approach this with a focus on character creation, depiction, and dialog?

This topic is, in and of itself, weighty.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Andrew Twiss, and mastered by Alex Jackson

Play

Write a scene in which a person who is part of a group you have written about about is reading what you wrote.

Voice of Martyrs, by Maurice Broaddus

13.31: Learning to Listen as a Writer

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard

“Write what you know” gets misapplied a lot. In this episode we’ll talk about how to know things by listening well. In particular, we’re looking at writing interesting characters by listening to real people.

We also talk about the more formal act of interviewing people¹, and how to deal with the attendant complexities.

Liner Notes:  Mary references her interviewing of rocket scientists and astronauts, which we just talked about last week. When this episode was recorded the JPL trip was still in our future, and was “will have been” extremely cool.

Comment Notes: The audio file wasn’t correctly linked until Tuesday. The irony of the our “how to listen” episode having exactly zero “listen” buttons is not lost on anyone.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson and engineered by Alex Jackson. Their fine work was obscured from public view by the careless hands of Howard Tayler.

 

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Interview some people! Find someone you don’t know, and then interview them, with a goal of learning something new.

Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer To Retrain Your Brain, by Stephen J Dubner and Steven D Leavitt, narrated by Stephen J. Dubner